WE'RE LEGAL, COMPLIANT

Set team to review closure of bars, Uhuru urged

President Kenyatta ordered closure in measures to contain spead of coronavirus

In Summary

• Operators faulted the move by the 47 governors whom they say misled the President into closing down the bars without consulting stakeholders.  

• Kiambu governor last week ordered the closure of all wines and spirits shops across the county as they had turned into operating like regularr bars. 

Bar owners and operators in kiambu county led by Richard Gachuiri (Left) has called upon the President to review his directive to close all bars as they have been had hit and will incur heavy losses in their businesses.
Hard Hit Bar owners and operators in kiambu county led by Richard Gachuiri (Left) has called upon the President to review his directive to close all bars as they have been had hit and will incur heavy losses in their businesses.
Image: STANLEY NJENGA

Bar owners and operators from Kikuyu and Limuru are calling upon President Uhuru Kenyatta to reverse his decision to close down bars to curb the spread of Covid-19.

They want him to set up a task force to look into how they can operate without exposing their patrons and themselves to the coronavirus.

Bar owners association chairman Richard Gachuiri on Thursday said all stakeholders should be involved in coming up with a solution rather than closing down the entire alcohol sector that contributes a lot of revenue.

"We have used up of money in securing a Covid-19 certificate to operate - Sh7,000 and above per person to be tested which we paid for our employees," Gachuiri said. 

He said a task force should have gone around the country taking views from the stakeholders and Kenyans before closing down businesses "like criminal activities". 

"We are protected by the Constitution which we must abide by and we operate legally. There is no proven fact that bars being operational is contributing to the spread as we operate under guidelines which we have adhered to. Why are we being criminalised yet we are the ones suffering by going back home and doing nothing to feed ourselves and families?" he asked.

Bar owner David Kariuki said that closing legal bars will lead Kenyans to illegal alcohol, hence,putting them at risk. 

"We are witnessing our young people drinking from one bottle, five of them, after buying from a wines and spirits or supermarket. How are we protecting ourselves by closing bars and yet people are out there flouting all health guidelines because they have nowhere to go?" Kariuki asked.

He said that they are worried because manufacturers are still manufacturing for wines and spirits outlets and supermarkets. 

"We are requesting our President to review this matter for the sake of our dying business and our staff and order the enforcement agencies to keep an eye on those violating the MoH guidelines as they are doing with other sectors - rather than crucifying the whole industry. The transport sector is still operating normally." 

Governor James Nyoro last week ordered the closure of all wines and spirits outlets across the county as they had turned into operating like regular bars. He ordered the closure of all alcohol-selling joints including at the supermarkets, otherwise,his government will close them down and revoke their licenses. 

“Any person operating a bar or a wines and spirits shop must close it, failure to which we will close those joints ourselves and arrest the owners,” he ordered. 

The governor also warned that eateries that have also been selling liquor to their customers will lose their licenses. 

Bar owner Betty Wanjiru said that they are not refusing to abide by the law but instead, they are ready to comply with all the rules and guidelines even if it is to sell take-away rather than close businesses entirely. 

"We sell the legal alcohol allowed by Kebs and we should be allowed to operate under strict guidelines, which we are ready to abide by," Wanjiru said. 

The operators faulted the move by the 47 governors whom they say misled the President into closing down the bars without consulting stakehold, which will lead to huge losses.

Instead, they said they are ready for talks, such as the gotiations on protocols that led to churches and mosques reopening.

Edited by R.Wamochie 

Richard Gachuiri, bar owners association chairman, displays a Covid-19 compliance certificate for his restaurant. He said that he used a t of money to pay for his 20 employees to get Covid-19 compliance certificates.
COMPLIANCE: Richard Gachuiri, bar owners association chairman, displays a Covid-19 compliance certificate for his restaurant. He said that he used a t of money to pay for his 20 employees to get Covid-19 compliance certificates.
Image: STANLEY NJENGA
Bar owners and operators discussing their next move after President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the closure of bars until further notice in the fight against Covid-19
COUNTING LOSSES: Bar owners and operators discussing their next move after President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the closure of bars until further notice in the fight against Covid-19
Image: STANLEY NJENGA
Richard Gachuiri, bar owners association chairman, speaking to bar owners and operators in Kikuyu.They have called upon President Uhuru Kenyatta to reverse his directive on closure of bars.
PONDERING NEXT MOVE: Richard Gachuiri, bar owners association chairman, speaking to bar owners and operators in Kikuyu.They have called upon President Uhuru Kenyatta to reverse his directive on closure of bars.
Image: STANLEY NJENGA